Dry beans absorb major hit

Canadian production is down, but not much as in the United States

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Glacier FarmMedia – It has been a disastrous year for most areas in North America in dry bean production and that will eventually result in rising prices, says an industry executive.

“Values to the farmer are slowly but surely going to improve and it don’t matter what class of bean you’ve got,” said Tim Courneya, executive vice-president of the Northarvest Bean Growers Association, which represents growers in North Dakota and Minnesota.

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The United States is North America’s largest bean producer. Production prospects are dismal in that country.

He can’t recall a year like this since he started working for the association in 1976.

“It has been a fiasco,” said Courneya.

“It’s not going to look good on paper when it’s all said and done. It just can’t.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is forecasting 1.19 million tonnes of U.S. bean production but he believes that is extremely optimistic.

The USDA dropped its estimate by 38,000 tonnes between August and October.

Courneya spoke to one buyer who reduced his pinto bean production estimate for North Dakota and Minnesota by double that amount alone.

“It has just turned into being a very, very poor dry bean year,” he said.

Yields will be well below average in every bean-producing state.

“We have had zero bright spots,” said Courneya.

“We were fighting to get them in and we’re still fighting today.”

Crop quality is another concern. The white/navy beans have held up, but many pinto beans are discoloured.

“I don’t care where it is or which variety you grew, it just turns ugly,” he said.

The story is much the same in the other two bean-growing regions of North America.

Mexico is the second-largest North American producer of the crop. A survey conducted by the U.S. Dry Bean Council is forecasting 417,101 tonnes of spring-summer production, which is 53 per cent below the long-term average.

Production of the country’s two bean crops is estimated to reach 700,298 tonnes, which is 38 per cent below average.

Canada’s dry bean crop is also in rough shape, with Ontario producers having to leave some crop in the field, with the same happening in Manitoba, but it doesn’t appear to be as bad off as the U.S. crop.

Courneya said growers south of the border are not eager to sell their uncontracted beans because they know processors will eventually become desperate for product.

“The market has to find its legs,” he said.

This article was originally published at the Western Producer.

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